Strategies I Use to Share the Gospel

I’ve been teaching a Theological Survey course at The Austin Stone this past fall and spring, and it has been a great experience in equipping the saints to think deeply about God, to love Him with a whole heart, and obey His commandments with willing hands.  Yesterday, one of the class participants asked me about how I personally communicate the gospel, and I thought it might be instructive to share my response.  Here you go!



Thanks for your question…I’m happy to share! When I think about the gospel and how to communicate it, I usually have one of three grids I am using:

  1. Sharing the Gospel Directly from the Bible
  2. The Basic Facts of the Gospel
  3. The Gospel as The Story of Jesus

Below is an overview of each!

Sharing the Gospel from the Bible

I actually used this strategy at the beginning of the class when I worked through 1 Corinthians 15:1-6 with y’all.  This passage is perhaps the most clear articulation of the gospel of Jesus Christ in all of the Bible, so I use it frequently.  I usually start with reading the text:

15 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.

Then I work through the following points in teaching:

  1. The past, present and future dimensions of the gospel – verses 1 and 2
  2. The primacy of the gospel – verse 3
  3. The facts of the gospel – verses 3-6

I find this to be an important way to present the gospel to those who are already believers, but don’t have a clear understanding of it.  It has the additional benefit of pointing out the foundation of the Bible as the authority on the matter.

The Basic Facts of the Gospel

The second strategy I often use is the basic facts of the gospel, which is stolen from the book “What is the Gospel?” by Greg Gilbert.  Briefly, the 4 main tenets of a gospel presentation answer the following questions:

  1. Who is God?
  2. Who is man?
  3. Who is Christ?
  4. How should we respond?

To answer those questions, I first talk about God as creator and God as holy and powerful.  Next, I talk about humans as created in God’s image, but we are rebellious towards God in our sin.  Then I turn to Christ, who is the God Man that lived in perfect obedience to God, died an atoning death on the cross, and was raised on the third day in victory over sin, Satan, and death.  Then finally, we should respond to this message with repentance (turning from our sin) and faith (turning towards Christ).

The Story of Jesus

Finally, the one I used in class is a modification of a Tim Keller strategy that has helped me think through the gospel as a story of Jesus.  The story follows the basic pattern below:

  1. Jesus came into this world as God in flesh
  2. Jesus lived a perfect life that you and I never could have lived because of our sin
  3. Jesus died an atoning death on the cross that we deserved to die to save us from our sin and take the wrath of God for sin upon himself
  4. Jesus rose from the dead in victory over sin, Satan and death so that we who would repent and believe might be reconciled back into our relationship with God the Father for eternity.
  5. The bad news is that we are more sinful and flawed than we ever dared to believe, and the good news is we are more loved and accepted in Christ than we ever dared to hope.  What good news!

It changes each time I tell the story, but those are the general points I usually work through.

I hope those help!  Finally, I have found this article by Tim Keller does a great job of explaining why we need to communicate the gospel in a variety of different ways…it has helped me a lot!

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Jesus and Mission

I’ve spilt quite a bit of digital ink over the last few months working through the reasons why we pursue missional communities, the core practices of missional communities, leadership systems for missional communities, and a variety of other practical things related to missional communities.

For today’s post, I wanted to share a sermon that my pastor and friend Matt Carter gave at Verge 2010 entitled Jesus and Mission.  I believe it will be a timely word for many of you, and has often been a sermon I have returned back to.  In the midst of strategy, it’s easy to lose sight of our primary calling to love our Savior…may it never be!

How are you prone to wander from the Savior?

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An Interview with Eric Geiger

My friend Eric Geiger did a short Skype interview with me on the topic of the Gospel and Community.  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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The Difficulty of Balancing Ministry and Discipleship

I’ve found that it can be extremely difficult to continually cultivate the centrality of discipleship, or the process of selectively investing a small number of individuals in order to teach obedience to what Jesus taught (Matthew 28:18-20).

I tend to think of Ministry and Discipleship in two different grids:

Ministry Discipleship
Reactive Proactive
Low relational investment, relative degree of anonymity High degree of vulnerability, involves a long term commitment
Meets immediate, felt needs Transformational and replicating
Often leads to immediate results and draws crowds, results in addition Often painstakingly slow with a few, but results in multiplication

The question to ask, I think, is why is balancing them so difficult?  Why is it so tough to remain faithful to the model of discipleship which Jesus demonstrates?  Here are a couple reasons that distract me:

  1. Ministry often times leads to immediate results and draws crowds (for examples from Luke, see Jesus casting out demonsJesus healing people, and Jesus’ miracles).
  2. Discipleship often is painstakingly slow and difficult with one step forward and two steps back (Peter confesses Jesus as the Christthen immediately denies him, and the disciples making mistakes).
  3. Ministry tends to involve a much lower level of relational investment, and for both parties there is a relative degree of anonymity (crowds don’t know who Jesus is).
  4. Discipleship requires a high degree of vulnerability for both parties (Jesus weeps in front of his disciples).

Both types of investment in people are important (see Pauls discussion about he and Apollos in 1 Corinthians 3), but the two are designed for the purpose creating multiplying disciples who participate in the Great Commission.  To do one to the exclusion of the other is to be patently unbiblical in our approach to either.

Ministry, however, needs to have an end in discipleship (the public ministry of Jesus reaches its pinnacle in Luke with Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ), and discipleship should utilize ministry for teaching (Jesus had his disciples observing most of his public ministry) and as an entry point into relational investment for discipleship (Jesus teaches and performs miracles before calling his disciples).

I find in myself, however, that the design of what I am calling ministry often is easiest to default because it offers quick successes and I can remain fairly distant from those to whom I am ministering.

The process of discipleship is exhausting, inconvenient, and difficult, which make it so much easier to simply enjoy the fruits of ministry (just like the seventy-two after returning from Jesus assigned task) rather than labor with love toward replication.

I am thankful that Jesus did not simply minister to the crowds, but instead remained faithful to the twelve. The movement of the Gospel hinged so much on their faithfulness to replicating disciples.  You don’t hear much throughout the rest of the New Testament about the crowds or those whom Jesus did something miraculous, but the disciples were at the epicenter of the movement of the Holy Spirit.

Let us remain faithful to a few, while ministering to many, in hopes that God would redeem and renew all things!

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Soccer and the Kingdom of God

I played soccer up until high school, and always enjoyed the game, so when it came time to put Micah into sports, soccer was a natural choice.  After a few stints at the YMCA, we joined our neighborhood league and I volunteered to help coach our team.

It’s been an interesting few weeks in the fun world of coaching U6 soccer.

Thus far the kids have had a blast, but some of the parents have been difficult to love. Our team is a microcosm of the brokenness of our neighborhood.  We’ve got overly competitive dads, passive-aggressive couples, absentee fathers, and a “Christian” who is slandering and gossiping.  It has come to a head this week with what amounts to a coup d’ etat  – one of the parents invited the former coach to “help out” with practice.  Seriously?!?

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are also some amazing parents who are incredibly supportive and encouraging, but it’s a little discouraging to see people ruining something so fun for Kindergartners.  As I’ve been processing the situation, the Lord has been gracious to teach me a few things.

  1. The economy of God’s kingdom is radically different than the economy of the world. I decided to help coach the team because I simply wanted to serve my neighbors. In the kingdom of God, the posture of service is pursued and celebrated.  In the world, people often treat you like a servant if you adopt a posture of service.  The Spirit empowers us in these moments to remember Jesus’ service, and lovingly and graciously continue to serve.
  2. The Kingdom of darkness is alive and well in suburbia.  Although it often looks different than brokenness in under resourced communities, there is a deep need for the gospel to set people free from their captivity to their sin.  It’s manifested in a need for glory through others, self-importance derived from little kingdoms of 6 year olds, and a slavish desire to have every expectation met.

As I have processed through the experience, it has all made me love my neighborhood more and beg God to establish His kingdom.  Without a gospel presence and a gospel witness, the kingdom of sin, Satan and death continues to reign. I pray that God would raise up more faithful followers of Jesus to declare and demonstrate the kingdom of God in these everyday places – youth soccer leagues, PTA boards, and suburban neighborhoods.

Mission doesn’t require spectacular circumstance, but supernaturally empowered every day people.